I grew up poor. I think pissing contests about what constitutes poor are kind of dumb, but I was technically homeless for awhile in high school, and even before then there were plenty of times utilities got turned off (and sometimes turned back on illegally, hello water key), and we lived in one house for a while where there was quite literally a giant hole in the kitchen floor (which was eventually covered by a piece of plywood) because the rent there was like $250/month and nowhere else was so cheap. I've traced some of my eating issues to my childhood; apparently it's pretty common for poor people to overeat when given the opportunity 'cause you never know when there will be more to eat.
And I'm poor now, but it's a different sort of poor, which is kinda made obvious by the way I'm on the internet right now. Erik makes enough for our basic needs to be met, and the child support makes it possible to do a few nice little things, but when I hear folks on Dave Ramsey talking about how they can't pay their bills on $2000 a month I want to slap the fuck out of them 'cause we'd pee ourselves in delight if we had that much money. It was very sobering to look at the income limits for Medicaid when I was pregnant with Marie and realize that we'd qualify even if we just had two kids. (Yes, the kids are on Medicaid. Their father is required under the terms of the divorce to provide them with health insurance, but he doesn't, and Erik isn't offered insurance. I'm willing to leave myself without insurance, but not them.)**
I realized yesterday, though, that there was a point in my life, and really not that long ago, when I lived a comfortably middle class existence. From the time my ex-husband got promoted to E-5 in 2002 until he got kicked out of the Navy for being fat in 2006, things were good. We had nice places to live (an apartment on Granby St. in Norfolk, within walking distance of the zoo and the Ghent neighborhood, a townhouse in Honolulu), we had great health insurance, we ate out a fair amount and bought new clothes and books and saw movies and such.
I miss that life, though I barely remember it. I am determined to get back to it, and I finally have a roadmap. In many ways, being poor is akin to being depressed (I have been both). When you are in that hole, it's hard to see a way out, even if you know there is one.
So...class warfare, as the title promised. To look at me now, and how I grew up, I should be a Democrat. I grew up in a pretty liberal household--my mom lived with hippies for a while, okay--the daughter of a single mother. I was a single mom for a while myself. I'm poor now. But I'm not a Democrat, or any sort of progressive, and I sure as hell don't believe in taxing the rich.
Why not? Two things. The most important one is critical thinking.
Look, I'm a grown-up. I know what it takes to become successful in this country: education, ambition, and hard work. Lots and lots of hard work. Yeah, it helps a whole lot if your family was successful too and can guide you toward the right path, but there are plenty of folks who rise up from nothing to be successful, so it's not strictly necessary.
The people who have more than I do worked damned hard to get what they have. I don't know anyone who had a fortune handed to them. I know people who put in years and years at school and hours and hours and hours at jobs after their schooling was completed. Quite often, they missed out on a large part of their kids' early years working, or had fewer kids than they wanted to, or rarely saw their spouses in order to be successful. (My definition of successful, by the way, is "having money left over after paying for necessities.")
And knowing this ties into the other reason I don't go for class warfare: It is, quite simply, immoral.
That's right. Immoral. Redistribution of wealth, taxing the rich to give to the poor as it were, is very close to evil. Because you aren't just taking their money, you are taking the fruit of years of effort and labor. You are effectively enslaving people. And why? So me and mine can have more? Good lord, no one made my ex and I decide I'd stay home and take care of the kids. No one made my ex eat himself out of a promising career, or fuck himself out of another one.
My life is a product of my decisions (and those of the people whom I gave power over me), just as others' lives are a product of their decisions.
Class warfare works by dehumanizing people. They are The Rich. They are not Dave, SpeakerTweaker, JayG, BobS, Borepatch (I know, y'all aren't rich, but you are successful by a given definition thereof, and as I said, you worked for it). I can't dehumanize people; I'm a Kantian by disposition, and using people as nothing more than a means to an end--which is what Democrats do--is abhorrent to me.
And you will notice this about liberals: They are more than willing to take over a third of some nameless person's income in order to "help out" some faceless poor people (and later on I will talk about what a crock their idea of help really is), but pretty much no one ever takes 36% of their own money and gives it to a family with less. The mindset is always someone oughta do something, never I'm gonna go do something.
**Yeah. About that. I could afford the kids I had, when I had 'em. Except for Marie. God love her. She was a bit of a miscalculation; when she was conceived Erik had a good job, and like a damned fool I figured he'd be able to find one here without any trouble. Much as I want a passel o' kids, we're trying to make sure that doesn't happen until circumstances materially improve quite a bit.